Medical staff trapped in volatile QwaQwa as residents demand water

2020-01-21 19:31
Protest action in QwaQwa in the Free State. (Supplied)

Protest action in QwaQwa in the Free State. (Supplied)

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The pharmacy and laboratory at Mofumahadi Manapo Mopeli Hospital in QwaQwa remain closed following a total shutdown that has left many parts of Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality under lockdown.

Doctors and nurses were trapped inside the hospital as the situation in the area turned volatile.

Residents in various parts of QwaQwa have taken to the streets demanding water.

The protest came about after an eight-year-old girl drowned while fetching water from a river.

Patients at the hospital have not received medication as the laboratory was closed due to pharmacists not being able to make it to work.

A hospital employee, who asked to remain anonymous, called on the government to deploy military medical services to the hospital and clinics to prevent the situation from escalating further. 

"Nurses, who risked their lives by going to Manapo Hospital on the first day of the QwaQwa shutdown, and patients are trapped in the hospital without water, food, medication and linen. They have not been relieved by other nurses because the area is blockaded.

"The police promised to escort nurses last night, but that didn't happen as they are preventing people from looting shops," she said.

The employee pleaded that soldiers should come to their rescue and evacuate all patients to other functional hospitals in the province. 

"New-born babies are dying in the arms of their mothers and the head of department, MEC and minister of health, including the president and Parliament of South Africa, are silent as if nothing is happening at the hospitals and clinics in QwaQwa." 

She said there were only six student nurses and four permanent ones on duty in the 300-bed hospital.

Speaking to the SABC, the hospital's CEO, Dr Balekile Mzangwa, thanked doctors and nurses who came to work.

Mzangwa said water shortages was one of the main challenges in the area, despite the minimum services being provided by the municipality.

"As we are sitting here on the third floor, we can't get water. We must collect water from Jojo tanks. The shutdown has created problems for us because some of our colleagues could not come to work.

"The pharmacist was on his way [to work], he wanted to come, I said to him he was not going to get through the roadblocks around here."

Some patients have been referred to Bethlehem.

"Some patients can't go to their appointments in Bloemfontein. Some can't access us. Some ambulances can't come to us here," he said.

Some medical personnel were forced to work long hours and complained about the lack of food.

Mzangwe said the hospital was forced to share patients' food with staff.

Read more on:    protests  |  health  |  service delivery

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